When Fear and Pride Take Over

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"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
Not one of my proudest moments.

But it happened.

I'm ashamed, but there was a great lesson learned in all of this.

A lesson in obedience, humility, and kindness.

Let me start off by reminding my readers of one very important fact in my life:  I'm am deathly afraid of dogs.

Not just an "oh, scary barking dogs frighten me sometimes" kind of fear but an "Oh my goodness my feet have stopped working, I cannot move, my hands are sweaty, and my heart is beating so fast" or "Cross the street to avoid crossing paths with a canine" kind of fear.  

Legit fear.

One morning, Phillip and I came across a neighbor and her dog.  We were heading to our car to pick up Carl, who had just dropped off our other car at the shop for repairs.

Her dog ran up to us (on a leash) and started barking.  I froze with fear.  She told me he doesn't bite.  I told her I had a fear of dogs.  She told me to calm down, it's OK.

Calm down? 

Calm down?

Um, yeah.  Hold on a sec while I try to slow my heart rate and tell my palms to stop sweating.  Oh, and convince my legs to take a few steps forward.

One of the most unhelpful phrases in the universe is "CALM DOWN."

I was visibly upset and irritated.  I just wanted to her to grab her dog! 

My annoyance swelled and she became defensive and angry.

And what transpired was a vulgar exchange of insults.  

She started it.  

And I could have kept walking.

But I engaged.

It was humiliating.

After our banter outside the laundromat, I loaded Phillip into his car seat and we were on our way.

My head was steaming with anger and I could feel my heart beat in my ears.

As soon as I drove away, I felt it.


What just happened?  Who was that crazy lady with the baby on her hip cussing out her neighbor?  

Was that ME?

How embarrassing.

God spoke to my heart, "What was that?  Is that how you represent me?  Does that show your neighbor that you are a citizen of Heaven? My child, you are not that person."

I had let my fear and pride get the best of me.  

Sure- fear can create irrational thoughts, feelings, and reactions in people.

But that's no excuse.

It did not matter what she said to me.  It did not matter if she yelled in my face.  It did not matter if she called me every vulgar name in the book.

I am a child of God and I did not act like it.

I should have kept walking.  I should have kept my mouth shut.  I should have exercised patience, humility, and understanding.

I should have called out to God to give me courage and strength to set a good example for my son.

But instead?  I tripped and fell flat on my face.

During that short car ride I was draped in shame.  I could not believe I let things get so out of hand.

I had to make it right.  First, I made it right with God.  I confessed and asked for repentance  right there at the steering wheel.  Then?  I had to somehow make it right with my neighbor.

As soon as we got home (and of course after I told Carl the entire story), I sat down at our desk and wrote that neighbor a letter.

I apologized for my actions.  I apologized for yelling at her.  I shared that although fear can make us do irrational things, my reaction was completely unacceptable.  I was humiliated.  And I was sorry.

I folded up the letter and placed it on top of the washing machine that she was using.  

Every couple of minutes Carl and I would peek out the window to see if she had returned and if she got the letter.  

When she did read the letter, she was walking away smiling.

I learned a few hard lessons that day.  To be humble and kind.  

And obedient to God.  

The last thing I wanted to do was apologize.

But what if I didn't?  I would carry around that horrible feeling within me all day- all weekend, probably! I would feel awkward passing by the laundromat, in case I had another run in with her and her pup.  It wouldn't just ruin my morning or my day, but I would always be looking out for her and feeling anxious about any future run-ins.

This lesson will probably stay with me for a long time.  I now try to take time to think before I react and remember what it means for God to call me one of his own. 

I have not seen that neighbor since.  I'm not looking forward to it, either.  

But when I do, I plan to just pass by with a smile and a blessing for her in my heart.

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"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)


  1. I think your actions will make the neighbour think next time she approaches you with the dog. she will remember your fear and your apology and want to do right by you.

    It was the right choice!!

    FYI- I am afraid of dogs too. maybe not as bad as you, but i wont pet dogs I dont know and I am very nervous around a new dog for a LONG time

  2. First off that lady needs to learn to control her dog. She should be considerate of others and teach her dog how to behave in public. I think you did the right thing in apologizing though. Hopefully she'll apologize to you too.

    ♥ Duckie.

  3. It took real courage for you to apologize. That can be so difficult, even when we know we have done wrong. I hope that she will recognize the reality of your fear and apologize for her actions, as well.


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